After taking a look at the Division I schools in Maryland, let’s take a spin with the Division III teams. Today’s entry is the second of a week-long series taking a look at each of the seven Division III programs in this state according to alphabetical order. Tomorrow’s subject will be McDaniel, but today is Hood’s turn.
Overview: Last season included a watershed moment for the Blazers, who snapped a 47-game losing streak with a 12-7 win against Gwynedd-Mercy on Feb. 24. Although the team proceeded to end the campaign with a nine-game skid, the goal is to use that victory as a springboard towards bigger and better things. "We want to keep the program going," coach Curt Foxx said. "It was good to get that monkey off our back, and as a team, the guys have come along. … That’s the biggest thing, getting the guys to believe in themselves. Once you get them to believe in themselves, you can do anything."
Reason for optimism: Hood did not graduate a single starter, returning all 10 for this season. Junior attackman Kris Miner, who led the team in goals (19) and assists (8), is back, as is sophomore midfielder Troy Hubbard, who registered 19 goals and five assists. All three starting defensemen – senior Jeff Tarleton, junior James Larrimore and sophomore Jon Butterfield – are a year older and well-versed in the schemes. "That’s great, but we also have a lot of competition," Foxx said. "We brought in a strong freshman class, and it’s competitive at every position."
Reason for pessimism: Although junior goalkeeper Nicholas O’Brien is back, the Woodlawn graduate’s numbers last year (17.93 goals-against average and .431 save percentage) were alarming. Freshman John Martin is pushing O’Brien for the right to start. "It’s been pretty competitive," Foxx said. "He is a freshman, but he’s been doing a great job of bringing the defense together. And he’s stopping the outside shots, which is what you need from your goalie."
Keep an eye on: Miner and Hubbard are the Blazers’ most dangerous offensive players, but Foxx said players like junior attackman Nick Spicer (9, 6), senior attackman Sofiane Lazar (13, 1) and junior midfielder Domonique Shorter (11, 2) have improved. "Kris and Troy are good players, but it’s more of a team concept," Foxx said. "We don’t have one or two go-to guys. We try to spread it out."
What he said: Since the program’s inception in 2005, it has made small strides. The team has 46 players compared to only 26 at the beginning of 2009, and only five of those players are seniors. The school installed a full field and locker rooms for the players for the first time. "It’s a big step forward," Foxx said. "I feel like we’re on the right track."